Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Lifes Purpose

I just watched a TED talk (which I am completely addicted to, by the way) about finding your life's purpose in under 5 minutes. Now, if that isn't worth doing than nothing is! And seeing how it is 1 am and my children are asleep and my brain is not, I might as well tackle the meaning of my life. Ready?

1. Who are you?
Hi, my name is Gretchen. I am a daughter of a King, wife to Matt, mother of 4 beautiful children under the age of 8, a teacher, a friend, a sister and daughter. I am a seeker of truth and asker of questions. I am a ridiculously idealist cynic. I am passionately reserved and an extrovert who needs her space. I am a jack of all trades but master of none.

2. What do you (love to) do? (i.e. what are you supremely qualified to teach other people?)

I like to cook but I don't like to follow recipes and there is a good chance I like to cook because I REALLY like to eat. I like to sew but I don't really know how to use a pattern and I usually only sew random and not especially useful things. I enjoy writing but am just average at it. I do like helping other women. I like to help them develop the confidence and skills to be the mothers they picture in their heads. I like to see them thrive, to watch them enjoy there children. I like to connect them in community, to help them avoid feeling isolated I don't know that I am "supremely qualified" to do any of the above.

(The last three are about others, not about yourself. The most successful people are those who are outward facing).

3. Who do you do it for?

I cook and sew for myself and my family, for the friends who we do life with, the occasional other person who needs a meal. I love helping the new moms in the community figure out this whole motherhood thing. I like forming supportive communities of women who do life together in meaningful ways while encouraging and educating them to achieve there best selves. I guess I do this for whatever women who cross my path, sometimes intentionally, most the time just accidentally.

4. What do they want or need?

Honestly? I think women need each other. I think they need to be told it is OK to find meaning in motherhood and career, that they are not mutually exclusive. I think women need to have each others back, to love each others kids, to find joy in the simple things of life and know how to live simply.


5. How do they change (or transform) as a result of what you give them?

I believe that intentional community is transformation for everyone involved. It brings true joy, connection, and meaning. It give confidence. It provides support. Do I do any of this? I'm not sure, but maybe it could happen.


Huh. I am not sure I have any more direction than I did when I started the quiz, which was harder than I wanted it to be in the first place. So is my life's purpose play-dates?! Any insight is appreciated. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Reality

I was single parenting this week.

I have a fair amount of experience in this, generally it goes well. Our hardest moments revolve around leaving the house. This makes having to be ready and in the car at a bit after 8 on Monday for school a bit of a circus.

This Monday was no different. I had made the girls cinnamon toast, completely forgetting that Addilyn doesn't love it. She politely asked for plain toast and I told her that was fine. By the time breakfast 2.0 was ready for her, she was dressed and ready to walk out the door. Fast forward about 5 minutes and 1 piece of jelly toast later...

I am not sure how a 5 year old girl even manages to make as big of mess as she did with 1 piece of toast. Apparently, some of the jelly slid off her toast and instead of licking her fingers or grabbing napkin, she proceeded to wipe her hands on her khakis...and her new shirt...and face...and even in her hair. It was 1 piece of toast. It required a full wardrobe change and sponge bath.

I have to admit I wasn't very kind. I try to be patient with this kind of thing because it is very Addilyn. The child is a bit of a walking tornado. Clothing gets passed from Eliana to Addie with nary a stain, but somehow during its life in Addilyn's closet a good percentage becomes unwearable for Annabelle. She is most likely to stick her elbow in ketchup, knock over her milk, step on the cat and fall out of her chair. She is also my best problem solver and hardest worker when she chooses to be. She has a sweet, laid back, go along to get along type personality and the ability to trash a pair of shoes like no bodies business.

I should have known better. I set the kid up for failure and then jumped on her case when it didn't work out well. She felt shamed and in trouble, she didn't get to wear her new kitten shirt and she was running late. What a lousy way to start a school day.

I struggle with so many versions of this; expectations vs. reality. I know my kids well enough to know what I can ask and they can do and when it is above there ability to execute. I know this about other things too, like I should expect to wait at the DMV, that my glasses will cost more than I want to spend and that I will never get everything on my to-do list done in one day. And yet, when I find myself waiting for over an hour, dropping a couple hundred bucks on the ability to see and a days end with my laundry still unfolded, I get irritated.

How old to have to be before I start accepting things as the ARE instead of how I wish they were? How long will it take me before I figure out that it is not the world, or my kids, or anythings elses job to make sure I am happy? As long as I have my list of how things SHOULD be, I won't be able to see the joy in how things are.

In yoga the other day, the instructor was talking about the Sanskrit words that mean "that, I am". It all comes back to grace and the ability to accept people for who they are, including ourselves. Addilyn is a work in progress, even if she never develops the ability to eat a meal without wearing it, that is ok. I can give her the grace to be her. I can take today as it is, myself included, knowing that in love is patience in all things. I know that if I live in grace and love, I can be kind. I can choose joy over expectation. And maybe on day, the line at the DMV won't be long and my kids will be on time for school.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thigh Gap and other nonsense

My 8 year old has a rockin' thigh gap.

Not familiar with thigh gap? You must not be a tween aged girl or fitness obsessed 20 something. Google the term, you will get some pictures of what some call beauty.

Lucky for me, my 8 year old doesn't know it is considered cool to have said thigh gap. She also doesn't know that the "cool kids" are often the ones who pretend they don't care about school, she doesn't know what a rainbow loom is, or that clothing from Justice is in for kids her age. She is into legos and robots, superhero comics and American girl dolls. Because she is 8. She has never had a "boy friend" or even pretended to, but she has a lot of little boys she like to talk about minecraft with.

Maybe it is because we homeschool, maybe it is her personality, whatever it is, I am pretty sure I can take no credit for her general disinterest in things that are popular. Her drummer beats and she happily marches on beat.

I struggle with this sometimes. I want a kid who generally fits in with her peers, but I don't want the kid who follows along with what everyone else does just because someone told her it was cool. I want her (and all of my kids) to stand up for what is right, for what they believe, for those who are picked on...but I want the to have friends and get invited to birthday parties too. I want her to be measured by her peers and found worthy while at the same time not give a flying rats ass what her peers think of her. And then again, I don't want her measured at all.

Thigh gap, like so many other measures of beauty, is ridiculous. It reduces a female down to the space between her legs and then calculates worth forgetting that we are not the sum of our measurements and that our beauty is inherent because we are divinely created. But what about the other measures of worth we throw at people? Are they any less ridiculous?

Want to know a secret? Eliana reads at grade level, but just barely. Reading is NOT her thing, which blows my mind because my favorite pass time is devouring books. Yes, she loves to be read to. Yes, she can read and decode words. Somehow my ego is strangely tied to her reading ability. Maybe it is because I am her teacher so her success and failures somehow feel like they reflect on me. And I have reduced my kid, and my ability as her teacher, down to something as stupid as thigh gap.

It is a strange dichotomy, the fact that we as people don't come in "standard units" of body size or intelligence and yet we are obsessed in creating a world where we should all be at the same level and measured by the same stick. Human worth is not quantitatively measured. We homeschool because of this, the deep belief that everyone has an inherent right to there own path and successes.

Today my goal is to throw away all units of measurement. I will do my best to enjoy the journey with my kids without sucking the joy out of our day by comparing us to others. I will forget things like grade levels and focus on the fun in learning and the light in my kids eyes when they grasp a concept. I will use Eliana as my example on how to not care what everyone else thinks.

Friday, November 8, 2013

All About ME

I have found myself not posting much lately.

Obviously, since the last time I wrote was JULY!

Despite moving cross country, living in the in between for over a month while single parenting, getting the kids enrolled in school, homeschooling, painting and updating a new house, and getting a bunny, I have stopped writing because my internal editor has been working over time. See, I process in my head and refine ideas in my writing. When I don't have time to write, and thus refine, I find I avoid it least it seem unfinished.

So this is me, getting over myself. I will write half thoughts, drop terribly unbaked ideas, and subject you all to all types of drivel that may not make a drop of sense.

You have been warned.

So today is Eliana's 8th birthday. I am afraid up until this point I have learned more from being a parent that I have possible been able to pour into this kid. I get the better part of this deal, hands down. I hope that maybe MY learning will slow down so I would maybe feel even a little less inept at this motherhood thing.

I have always said that if you want to know how selfish you are, get married. And when you are ready for part 2 of that lesson, have a kid. I was reading an article about 12 rules to live by, and one of the things it said was to be of service. Now this particular author doesn't necessarily subscribe to my religious beliefs and I doubt they knew how profoundly this might speak to some one who thinks like I do. 

You see, I believe if you want to live the loneliest, least fulfilling life possible, live for yourself, focusing only on what you can achieve for you, how comfortable and happy you can be. The greatest and hardest lesson I think we ever have to learn (and we learn it repeatedly and in so many ways) is that life is all about me. Want to be happy, stop thinking about your own happiness and start using your abilities to bless those around you.

The statement that really rocked me was this:

"It was then that I realized that I was looking for a payoff for simply being of service, and that was when my life changed. It isn't an act of kindness if you expect something for it, and once you remove the payoff from the equation, you will find yourself catapulted to the next level of true selflessness, and that is the understanding that the reward for loving is loving; the reward for being of service is being of service. And the self-esteem that comes from reaching out and helping other people is invaluable. Because it gets you out of your own head and helps you not feel overwhelmed by problems or other concerns. It helps you feel connected."

Whoa.

So when I do something to serve someone else, then chafe at not being noticed, I have taken something that SHOULD bring joy to my life and sucked all the love right out of it by making it all about me.

Kids start as babies. Babies are truly thankless beings, they suck everything out of you, your time, you ability to sleep, the right to pee and shower by yourself. Early motherhood taught me that parenting is really a thankless job. The baby doesn't really care that you got no sleep and just wanted 5 minutes to drink a cup of coffee. I think God does this on purpose. It is so easy to make our worlds all about us, to be the center of our own universe and when we step out to serve someone else, to assume everyone should stroke our egos by telling us how great we are. 

Infants suck at lip service. My babies never once told me I was an amazing mother for wiping their butts at 2 am.

I serve my children because they are my blessings from God, because, from the start, I want to show them what a life of love looks like and love is an action. As they grow, I will continue to teach them to serve others with what they have been given. I will teach them that they are a blessing, uniquely gifted and able to help others. I will work, daily, to remember this of myself.

I am still shockingly, embarrassingly, hopelessly selfish. Too often my thoughts go to "whats in it for me" or even the ever juvenile "well, thats not fair!". I guess I still have a lot of learning to do, but with the grace of God and maybe a good therapist, maybe my kids will turn out ok despite me.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sweet Spot

I was reading this today and it caused me to reevaluate.

I have been trying to live in JOY lately, and often, not always, succeed. You see, 2 weeks from tomorrow the kids and I will be getting on an airplane with one way tickets to CO. Back home. My heart is joyful, my brain is frazzled and I am getting a little twitchy from the stress.

We are buying a house (that I have never seen) enrolling kids in school (that I have never visited) and living in limbo while Matt finishes up stuff here and we start life there and...oh my.

Jamison is getting his molars, all 4 of them. My normally crappy sleeper is worse, if that was even possible. I lovely little neighbor girls has a little issue with lice (and a much bigger issue of a broken family and being shuttled from home to home, but that is a different post) and so my little girls have been repeatedly combed and groomed to prevent the infestation from spreading. I am attempting to pack up a family of 6. Notice I say "attempting".

And yet our summer has been delightfully low key. Days spent splashing in the $5 kiddie pool in the back yard, riding bikes, going out for ice cream, swinging in the hammock, walking to the park, play dates with friends.

I must say I am particularly enjoying the ages of my girls. While not quite as big as those in the bloggers post, they are so fun. Yesterday Eliana made everyone brownies for a spa day they had. She painted her sisters finger nails and poured there drinks. Last night we all cuddled in bed and she read the story to her sisters.

Addilyn's fabulous sense of humor has grown delightfully, she is the first to get a joke and laugh at a passing comment. She can see the humor in life and I love it. She is beautifully brown from the summer sun and still crawls up in my lap to snuggle. She is starting to read and can't wait for kindergarten.

If you want to hear how things really are, just ask a 3 year old. Honesty pours out of Boo-Bellies mouth with abandon. She is so funny without trying. Hugely expressive (to the point of melodrama) and so much fun. Still little enough to be my baby girl, but big enough to hold her own with the sisters.

Jamison, half the time I want to tape him in the corner to keep him from destroying the house and himself and the other part of the day I just want to sit and watch him explore. Wild abandon doesn't quite capture the spirit of this little dude. He is communicating and moving. Yesterday he spent a good 10 minutes trying to convince the kitten to ride the bike.

Sweet spot.

It would be so easy to be too busy to really enjoy my kids, but I know they will grow so quickly and I will miss this. Jamison is my last baby and i don't want to wish away his littleness. Eliana is blazing the trail and I want to be available for that too. I am so blessed if I only choose to stop and see.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Critical thinking

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today. It spoke to my heart.

When I am really doing good,when life has a rhythm and I am not feeling overwhelmed and undermanned, we have a pretty stellar bed time routine. It starts with a clean up time, followed by a bath or shower, jammies on and everyone collects on the couch with bowls of popcorn and we read a story together. Up stairs we go, teeth are brushed and into bed. But that isn't all. The last part is my favorite. We lay together in bed and say the best thing and worst things about our day, we name the things we are thankful for and then I tell each child a moment in the day that I was proud of them.

I would love to say that last part was one of those conscious choices I made to be a good parent, but I would be full of crap. It all started one night that followed a day where I felt like all I did was harp on my kids. I felt like a terrible mom. They felt picked on and sad. I didn't want to end the day that way so I told them things that had made me proud.

The shift in the room was amazing.

Sullen, grumpy children lit up from the inside, there faces flushed and they smiled. I kissed them goodnight and left the room. I felt worse. It was so rare that I compliment my girls, authentically noticing some thing kind or brave or giving that they did, that it felt like a "special thing" to them. Parenting FAIL.

I read an article written by two marriage counselors whose marriage hit a rocky place (irony?!) they realized that they spent many interactions being critical of each other. They decided to do a test. The committed to not be critical for one month. They catch? The other person got to be the judge of weather or not you were criticizing. If they made it the entire day BOTH not being critical, they put a smiley face on the calendar. It revolutionized their marriage. At first, once they chose to be aware,  they felt like they had nothing to say to each other. Then they got better at phrasing requests without critique and negativity. Soon it became second nature. It made them stop and think before they spoke.

This shouldn't be a revolutionary concept but somehow it is. The bible talks about this, speaking truth in LOVE, but for some reason we seem to gloss over the fact that love includes respect and kindness. We also seem to believe that children don't get to be treated as well as adults because they are littler and "not in charge".

Even neuroscience knows better. A child's brain that feels safe and secure is better able to connect and process information. A child who feels like their parent is not operating from a place of joy ("I happy to be me, here, with you") starts to put up walls, their brain chemistry changes as their brain floods with costisol (the stress hormone) and they go into a fight or flight state of mind. A brain in this state is intent on self protection, not learning or correctly processing information. When we are overly critical of our kids, we actually KEEP THEM from improving!

My children are not perfect and neither am I. They will need course correction on occasion. Not being critical has nothing to do with false praise or not disciplining. It is a state of being that is concisely kind, that speaks truth surrounded with love and grace and acceptance of the person while guiding the behavior.

My natural bent is to be sharp tongued. I wait for the day when I feel like I have really got this parenting thing nailed. It hasn't come yet. I am renewing my commitment to parent from a place of joy, I will work to be affirming, kind and compassionate. And on the days I royally screw up, I will ask for forgiveness and remember that tomorrow is another day.

My same friend posted this quote, which I love:

"It is an invalid argument to say you treat your children harshly to "prepare them for the real world". Childhood is not a holding pattern waiting for "real life" to begin. Your children are living in the real world now. Punishments and coercion don't teach them to toughen up in case some stranger down the road treats them thusly, it teaches them that punishment and coercion can be expected from the people who love them most.

Just because someone somewhere down the road will treat your child harshly is no reason to treat them harshly yourself. Instead, build them up. Show them how to peacefully interact so they will reject violence, so they will not accept coercion or mistreatment from others in their lives.

Just because someone somewhere down the road will treat your child harshly is no reason to treat them harshly yourself. Instead, build them up. Show them how to peacefully interact so they will reject violence, so they will not accept coercion or mistreatment from others in their lives.
Just because someone somewhere down the road will treat your child harshly is no reason to treat them harshly yourself. Instead, build them up. Show them how to peacefully interact so they will reject violence, so they will not accept coercion or mistreatment from others in their lives.

Just because someone somewhere down the road will treat your child harshly is no reason to treat them harshly yourself. Instead, build them up. Show them how to peacefully interact so they will reject violence, so they will not accept coercion or mistreatment from others in their lives."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Modesty

I have divulged the family secret that we are terrible about modesty in this house, so if there is anyone to speak truth on this subject I am fairly doubtful it would be me. Me, the mom who has on multiple occasions taken a child on outings sans undies. Me, the mom who doesn't own a bathrobe and generally has to attend to someone elses need upon exiting the shower before I can even attempt to get fully attired.

This does not mean I don't have an opinion on the issue because of course I do.

I have read many an article on the subject that sounds like this. Now that one is delivered with a bit more love than most, but the the tone is the same.

I grew up in the church. I have heard the spiel. Heck, I worked with the youth, I have GIVEN the spiel. The church and I both missed it. Yup, I was wrong even though my heart was in the right place and I threw scripture at it. Imagine that, you can be misguided even when toss the bible at a problem!

Here is what I believe I, and the well meaning church, missed. I will use the Cosby show to illustrate. Why the Cosby family? Because when I was a little girl I watched it and one episode spoke more truth into my life regarding modesty than any church sermon/youth event/women's book I have ever heard or read.

It went like this:

Rudy and her friend are playing in Rudy's room. Rudy's friend is wearing a head scarf. Rudy asks her friend why she wears a scarf on her head and the friend responds "My hair is my glory. It is a special part of me only to be shared in private, with my husband"

Are you struck with wonder and awe? Ok, maybe not. But here is what captured my little girl heart, she kept something covered because is was so super special. There was no shame, she didn't look embarrassed or apologize for being different. She held her head high, confident that she was worth the respect of being waited for. She believe she was covered not because she was so tempting but because she was so glorious. As a knobby kneed, spectacled, frizzy haired and awkward 8 year old, I envied that level of comfort in my own skin, I yearned for the deep held belief that I was so valuable I needed to be respected.

Guilt, shame, judgement and blame are all motivators, just not good ones. For so long modesty has been spoken of from a place of ugliness and I hope that in all my many parenting failures, I don't do this to my kids. Modesty is subjective, and like the article says, it is a heart issue. I just don't believe that they heart issue is the one she says it is. 

If a child is taught that what they have is so special, that it is there "glory", and that they are a true treasure, will they treat themselves cheaply? If girls are told that they are powerful, not tempting, and if they are reminded of the responsibility they have TO THEMSELVES to live respectfully, will they be more modest? If children are told and raised with the belief that the value they have is INTRINSIC and in no way externally measurable, will they live their life feeling a need to flaunt their...ahm...assets?
Honestly, I just don't know. But I will do my damndest to find out. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Serendipity

ser·en·dip·i·ty  
/ˌserənˈdipitē/
Noun
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: "a fortunate stroke of serendipity"


My life is lived slowly. It might be because I find myself moving at the pace of a newly walking one year old boy or a incredibly distracted 3 year old girl. It could be by chance but in my most honest moments I must confess that I really like to move slowly. I like to drink my coffee not in a travel mug. I like my kids being able to paint pictures in their jamies until 10:00 am. I like having a clear calendar and nothing expected of us. I don't sign my kids up for stuff, despite the lingering mom guilt, and instead plan trips to museums, lakes, camping, and the library. All on our own time. At our own pace.

The other day I had just put my kids down for some quiet time when there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find a friend of ours who was dropping off some items her husband had purchased for us at my husbands request.We started chatting. Soon she was sitting in my living room pouring out her heart. Newly married, wanting a family, feeling torn about career and finance, we chatted for over an hour while my children napped and my lunch grew cold in the kitchen. I had nothing else planned and she needed a friend right then.

A great friend of mine is about to imbark on a huge adventure. I couldn't be more thrilled for their family. There are a lot of detail she is feeling the pressure to figure out, one of which is to find someone to care for their dog and their house while they are away for 6 months. She told me this the same day another girlfriend told me that her and her husband would love to have a few months to figure out what missional direction God is looking to move their life but it is hard to do while working. Can one friend end up helping out the other? Maybe, this might be Gods nudging, I connected them none the less. 

My life isn't always slow and it looks like the next few months are going to hold a lot of big changes for my family. I love that God will be in that too. I can live in faith that God can speak into my quiet moments and He will still be there when I am running around like a mad woman. He can still use the moments that don't get penciled onto my calendar, which usually are the most meaningful ones. The long phone conversations, the coffee dates and the unexpected dropping in of friends are Gods serendipitous hand in my life and I never want to shrug them off because they are inconvenient or unplanned.

So this is my tribute to the boring, the slow, the monotonous, the unrushed and countercultural choice to slow down. I will let my kids be kids and that means being bored on occasion. I will be still when I could rush. I will let the baby nap in his bed, the children play long drawn out and elaborate games, I will drink my coffee and chat with friends and teach the neighbor kids to play dress up with sarongs. I will let God speak in the slow because when I move quickly I have a hard time listening. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sex



I figured I would title this in a way that no one would question the content of this post. Yes, this is a post about sex.

A friend of mine posted this link.

I agree with some of it. I like that the mother takes special time to be with her children. I like that she did some research ahead of time. I can tell her heart is in the right place and they way she handled it was maybe right for her family and her situation.

Yeah. We don't do it that way.

First, we suck at modesty in this house. My kids like to be naked and I think it is a stupid thing to fight about. We do discuss that it is bad manors to leave the house without underwear (though we did end up at the park last week sans-panies and in a dress), that it is polite to be properly attired when we have people over. We have found this to be a self correcting problem, Eliana now feels more comfortable dressed and there was never any shaming or "cover that up!" that lead to this, only maturity.

Second, we tell the kids that there body is there own. We don't fight about food because I respect the fact you know how hungry you are and I want you to listen to your body. Potty training is about listening to your body. We name parts. They know why a boy is a boy and it is no big deal. They understand that grown ups are hairy but girls won't grow beards, only boys. Since there body is theirs to care for, they know some of it is private and others shouldn't touch them there, pretty much if it is covered by your bathing suit it is off limits.  They also have the right to tell anyone that they don't want to be touched and we do our best to respect the boundaries they draw.

Third, we have never had "the talk" but even Annabelle could tell you where babies come from. Eliana is almost 8 and she doesn't even blush about it. We have books, several in fact, that give pictures and everything. She also knows how her brain works, what happens to food when we eat it and what her bones look like. Reproduction is just another body system. Breasts are for feeding babies. We have discussed that just as it is impolite to discuss poop, it is also considered poor manners to talk about reproduction and can make some people uncomfortable, but they are all welcome to talk to us about it. Just maybe not at the dinner table.

Purity is another matter all together. I am not a fan of the "promise" ring idea. I also think that abstinence only teaching sets kids up for failure. I would love my girls to stay pure until marriage, notice I didn't say virgins, but pure. This isn't because I think that is the only way they are worthy of love or that I think that God will smite them, but because bad choices cause pain. So often choices made as a teen have long lasting repercussions. I don't wish any type of pain on my kids. My goal is to teach great decision making, ownership and respect of their bodies as gifts from God, and a deep belief that they are worthy of love and respect. This is not a pact between me and them, so I am not offering money or a ring, but between them and their God, their heart. I don't own my children and I won't "present" them on their wedding days as gifts to their husbands or wives as something I have done. They are autonomous people, not extensions of myself and something I have accomplished.

I do love the idea of celebrating a "coming of age". Our world is short on rights of passage and I would love to figure out how to make that part of our family's story. What a blessing it would be to celebrate a young teen, who is working on self image, as a whole person moving into adulthood!

Families are so uniques, made up of people and personalities and stories all so different. I don't know if they way we do it is "right" or even "best", but it is honest and without shame.

Monday, May 27, 2013

In the Quiet

This is a blog post I almost didn't write. I almost didn't because I don't really have anything to say. "Who would want to read that?!" my inner voice critiques. But I don't write for "them", I write for me, I write because it is a discipline that sharpens with time and effort poured into it. Even taking time to gather the scattered thoughts into sentences when the subject matter leaves a lot to be desired will, at least in theory,  allow me to better express myself when I really do have something significant to relay. That day isn't today, but I have to assume at some point I will be interesting.

My house is quiet.

Well, not exactly quiet. Perfectly quiet doesn't happen around these parts. Relative quiet. Four children down for a rest type quiet. There is still the noise of the dryer (because it is Monday, and damnit! I WILL complete my laundry today) and a box full of kittens in the kitchen. One of the kittens is protesting loudly to its mama as she has him pinned and is giving him a tongue bath. I hear the train, blocks away but so noisy I still can hear the clacking in the relative still of my house. In this semi-quiet, there is peace.

If I waited for the quiet to be perfect before I found the peace, it wouldn't happen. I have found that my tendency to be a card carrying member of the "good enough" club may not serve me well in house keeping but it allows me to find joy without perfection. Just as my home will never be perfectly quiet, my closet the cleanest, my flowers will never grow just so, my children might not be the brightest of all their friends and acquaintances  I can lean into the grace of not quite perfect. I can enjoy the freedom of letting go of the ideal and embracing the How It Is.

In the not-quite stillness, I will embrace joy. I will eat the last piece of fruit pizza without having to share a bite. I will drink my tea while it is still hot. I will look a pinterest and admire all the pretty things, clever idea, and happy homes and not feel judged by the perfection casting its shadow on my yet to be folded laundry. I won't worry about where we will be in six months, because I have been divinely placed HERE for NOW and that can be good enough.

I won't strive for perfect. I don't need people to think I have it all figured out, that I am an amazing mother and a doting wife. I am me and I am good enough, a work in progress. I write spirling blog posts that bore my friends, I live in a house with crumbs beneath my feet. I am still loved, I still have something to offer. I won't chase perfect and neglect the gifts given to me in the now.

I will drink my tea while it is still warm and let the laundry sit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Heart Ponderings

It seems wrong to have my first blog post in monrhs be a unorganized collection of brain droppings. It seems like I should be doing a cutsie family status update full of pictures of my smiling children being success, adorible quips and quotes from my three year old and deep pondering about the meaning of life. But it is my blog, damn it, and that just isn't the space I am ocuping today.

I slept from 3-5:30 am, and not of my own choosing. I am grumpy. My husband is traveling. The weather has turned humid so don't even get me started on the state of my hair. I didn't get to drink my coffee this morning between meeting the needs of many little people. Then there is the news; the heartbreak of families losing everything in the storms in the midwest. As I serve my kids cold cereal, there are mothers stumbling through soul sucking grief of losing a child. It makes my lack of sleep and coffee bitching seem petty.

My son is such a blessing, this is what I keep telling myself. The one year old stage is not one of my favorites. Jamison's favorite pass time is destroying things, emptying shelves and drawers, unfolding laundry, throwing food from his tray. He is just tall enough to grab things from the table top...and pull them down on his head. He has slept one 7 hour stretch, ever, in his life. A good night is him getting up at least 3 times. He screams like you are ripping off appendages when you pick him up to redirect his activity, going full limp noodle in your arms.

This, too, shall pass.

I could let him "cry it out" but that goes against my very heart. I believe babies cry for a reason and when we respond in love, we teach them there world is a safe place and that they matter. I know that believing babies even SHOULD sleep through the night is a strictly western world concept. I know this, science back all of this, but somehow at 3 am it just seems...hard.

Despite this, I know better than to wish away this stage of exploration, discovery, and self expression. I love the big, sloppy wet kisses he gives unprompted. It melts my heart when he snuggles on my shoulder and pats my back with his little hand. His sense of humor is emerging and the strangest things set him into full belly giggles. Thump a rubber duck from the side of the tub into the bath? Uproariously funny, over and over and over. I love watching him play chase with his sisters. I get such a kick out of seeing him get so excited about the cat that he quivers. Just because this stage is hard doesn't mean I want it gone.

There is a lot of Buddhist teaching about being in the moment, about how pain comes from longing and misaligned expectations. This makes so much sense to me. I am most irritated when I get stuck in the "shoulds". My children are people unto themselves, they will develop on there own timetables  I am helping to shape lives, grow little people into big people and show them what love really looks like so that they will seek and find its ultimate source in God.

My problems are decidedly first world. I am blessed beyond measure. And I am still unpleasant company.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

10 Months old


This kid is 10 months old. 2 months away from his first birthday. That means I have been 10 months without a full nights sleep. Who am I kidding...it has been more like 7.5 years.

Jamison is a busy little man. He crawls. He cruises around stuff. He stands. He has made it a personal mission to eat as much nasty stuff from off the floor as he can. He has about 8 words and several signs. He is SUCH a ham and loves to make his sisters laugh. He also has quite the temper (*sigh*) and when told no or removed from something he is not supposed to be in to he will arch his back and SCREAM. Oy.

This poor dude was also the victim of my most epic mommy fail moment. The other morning I set him on the floor to get him dressed. As I was sitting right next to him, he reached over and put his hand on the humidifier. The one that is usually off during the day and I had yet to unplug. I immediately grabbed him but the damage was done. His poor baby hand was fried.

He screamed...and didn't stop...and I can't blame him. Nothing hurts like a burn. Off we went to the doctor (SOOO glad our pediatrician has Saturday hours) Burn cream, bandages and time will heal his boo boos, I, on the other hand, will be in need of therapy.

He has been such a trooper through it all. He is on new meds, has a busted paw and is still such a sweet little man. He is pretty sure the world orbits around him and despite the chronic lack of sleep, I am so glad he is in our world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So Long

Dear Organized Religion,

I suppose we have both known this was coming for quite some time. It isn't any secret to anyone familiar with my life that we don't get along. For so long I have tried to make it fit, to shove my heart and thoughts and dreams in a neat little box with your name on it. But I am done.

I will no longer defend you. I won't stand for your oppression, your hate, the wars fought in your name. I will stand on the side of those weeping because of you. Those who feel like they have no place, I will be holding there hands. Those who are forgotten because there life isn't neat, who have other plans on Sunday morning, I am going to hang out with them.

Many of my friends like you, they hang out with you regularly and like how neat and tidy you are. They like the security of feeling like they are in the "right" while everyone else (God save there souls) is wrong. They enjoy having all the answers, knowing the right phrases, being on the inside. That is ok, I can be friends with them still. I can respect there love of you even when you have no place in my life.

You see, there is this dude in my life, he has been here for a while. I like Him. He doesn't love religion either, it makes him mad. This guy is the one who sought out the repressed and invited them to dinner, he is the one who told story after story to try and help people understand what it means to love, really love, radically love. Jesus and I are cool.

So with this I say goodbye. I don't want your neat box. I don't want your stupid, unending, fruitless arguments about pre-trib and post-trib, new earth and old earth. I don't want to hear any more of your polarizing drivel about dinosaurs on Noah's ark. I won't play on your team. I am much to busy to bow to your sacred cows, to honor your traditions that are empty and me and to pretend I care about your ceremony.

I don't need anyone to agree with me, I am now confident enough to walk my path hand in hand with a creator who made me in His image. Please, don't try and track me down. I will be eating meals with my friends, two men who are madly in love. I will be going on adventure with my kids and my recently divorced friend who is struggling to find his feet. My life is much to full for something like you.

Uninterestedly Not Yours,

Gretchen

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writing Out of Control

Blogging is a strange tension. My life is far from exciting, my children are cute but deserve some level of privacy, my marriage is healthy but non necessarily fodder for blogging. I also attempt to be real. I would hate for anyone to ever read this and think I have got it all together, or that I think that I have all the answers or that my life is all rainbows and butterflies.

Eliana is learning that stories have a beginning, middle and end. If only that was so. The middle of my story might be the beginning of someone elses. What I feel is an ending might only be a new beginning in disguise. I believe we all play a part in a bigger story, that our tails are just chapters in a larger book of which we are not the author.

But some tails are hard to write about. They are sensitive or scary or just hard to find the words for. Real life is messy and not neatly summarized in blog posts. My heart is so scattered, my thoughts are fractured, my story isn't nicely wrapped up.

Jamison had a seizure last week. Wait. Scratch that. We think he had a seizure. It wasn't a full grand mal, twitching on the floor, loosing consciousnesses kind of event. It was a strange twitch that wouldn't stop and he didn't have control over. It looked like this

So off to the pediatrician we went. That alone should tell you something, that I took my kid to the doctor. He was weighed and measured, poked and prodded and referred to a neurologist  Turns out Jamison has lost weight and not grown in the last 2 months. We now have a hospital stay in our future for a video eeg to see if we can catch the behavior and the related brain waves.

Best case? It was a one time thing and we will never see it again. The neurologist said it could be a pain response to reflux. Or it could be what the call "self stimulation" which is a tick babies do because they think it is fun and it creates neurological stimulation. We might never know what it is. He might have a clean eeg and we never deal with it again.

Or not. It could be that my son is an epileptic  It could be that we will be dealing with this for the rest of his life. He could be suffering from brain damage. He could have an ugly disorder called West Syndrome. Maybe my son won't grow up to be "normal". Maybe he will struggle to do things that come so easily to his siblings, things like walking and talking and building with blocks. Maybe...

I am a fixer. I am an information junkie. We all deal with our need to control in different ways, my way is to gather as much knowledge as I can, place it in a neat box in my head and give it a label  But I can't control this. I can't help my son. I can't fix him. I can't gather more information because I don't even know if something is wrong. I am not, by nature, someone who loses herself in worry. I place high value on competence, my own and other peoples, and that includes being prepared. I crave to be the author of a nice, neat book, complete with chapter titles and nice transitions.

But now I wait, stuck in the middle of a story.

I must live in today. I am forced to carry on, lean into the discomfort of a world outside of my control. I read a book and snuggle my kids. I rock my baby to sleep, admiring the fact he is fearfully and wonderfully made by a creator God who loves him more than I can fathom and has know what his life would look like even before I knew he would be born. I make meals, sweep floor, talk with friends, embrace the now.

I don't know how the story ends. No amount of reading and learning can cushion my life or protect me from the discomfort of the unknown. So I cling to a God who is bigger than today, who knows my tomorrows and will give me the strength to carry on because Love always finds a way, no matter how the story goes.


Monday, February 4, 2013

GF on the Cheap

If you can eat "normal" food, feel free to skip this post...and go eat a donut in celebration.

We are now all gluten free at our house. Sad day. Or maybe not. Matt has found he feels 10 times better when he avoids wheat, Annabelle is a much happier little person and my other girls don't have belly aches. Oh, and now I won't be dying at a young age of cancer. So I suppose it could be worse than having to be gluten free. It is, however, brutal on the food budget.

Several years ago I discovered Pamela's Baking and Pancake mix. It rocks. From this magic I can make cookies, muffins, pancake and waffles in a jiffy. Oh happy day!! Except it costs $15 for a bag that we can kill in about 2 weeks. Oy.

Back to the drawing board. Through the combined knowledge of gluten free cheap-skates such as myself, I have come up with this recipe for a DIY Pam's mix. It is awesome. Cheaper than buying it, I make a double batch and keep it in a Tupperware. For pancakes, mix one cup of the mix with an egg and 3/4 cup of milk.

1 cups Brown Rice Flour,
1 cups White Rice Flour, 
1 cup Natural Almond Meal or ground flax (may appear as brown flecks), 
3/4  cup Tapioca Starch, 
3/4  cup Sweet Rice Flour or oat flour
1  cup Potato Starch 
3 Tablespoons  baking powder
2 Tablespoon Baking Soda, 
1 tablespoon Sea Salt, 
1 tablespoon Xanthan Gum. 


I use this for everything I used Pam's for and it has never let me down. Bring on the muffins and coffee cake! Bring on the chocolate chip cookies and corn bread! Bring on the bigger pant size!


Friday, February 1, 2013

A Very Snowman Birthday


I am not sure when it happened, my sweet little AJ getting so big. But it is official, she had the 5 candles to prove it.

 This girl, who so boldly marches to drum beat in her own little heart. The kid who chose to be a donut and and IPad for Halloween. The kid who chose to have a Snowman birthday, with brownies, not cake or cupcakes. The kid who wanted to go out for ice cream to celebrate when it was single digits. She is so awesomely herself. And now she is 5.
 So snowmen we had, in the shape of pancakes  her favorite food. Along with eggs, sausage and applesauce. The friends came over and we made indoor snowmen from a dough of baking soda and shaving cream. It was a giant mess, and oh so very much Addilyn Joy.
I am beyond blessed to be this girls mama. I am grateful for her each day. I love her spirit and her spunk. I can't wait to see the amazing adventures she is sure to undertake and the woman she will become. It is going to be quite the ride.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I am a 5 year old girl

Addilyn was being a butt-head today.

This might not be so surprising to those of you who don't know Addilyn well, she is after all a five year old girl and we all know five year olds are prone to butt-headed-ness. She isn't a butt-head  At least, not usually. She is my happy, go lucky, roll with the punches kind of kid. Until shes not. Then she is a pain in the butt. Moody. Grumpy. A pest to her sisters. General butt-headish behavior.

And that is when I know I have messed up.

We could call this an Addilyn problem, and, on some level, that wouldn't be entirely inaccurate. I believe we are in charge of how we deal with our emotions. But she is 5. And I am her mom. And I know adults who don't do that whole "emotion" thing well so it is a tall order for a short person.

Addressing the need behind the behavior is the quickest way to root it out. So even though I want to thump her and tell her to pull herself together, I don't. Instead of correcting the crappy attitude, we snuggle. I make time to read her a book or 3. I have her sit on the counter while I make lunch. I help her put her jammies on and brush the tangles from her hair even though she is more than capable of doing both herself.

By bed time I have a different kid.

She is sweet natured and silly, helpful and kind, she is back to being the Addilyn she really is instead of the one being driven from the inside by the need for a bit more attention.

As we snuggle in bed we talk about her day. I tell her the way she was acting ugly was not ok, she is contrite and apologetic  I know she is sorry to her core. She would not have been if I had confronted her and our relationship wasn't up to par. If she was feeling disconnected and I corrected her behavior  she would have pushed further away, deeper into her funk, resentful and feeling picked on.

I am such a five year old girl some times.

There are times when I know God is speaking to me and I just feel irritated. I feel put-upon by His will, like His best for me is just ruining my fun. Like doing what I know is right just isn't going to work in this world. It is times like this, if pressed, I would say it is I who has once again been negligent. I have gotten busy with the things of life and forgotten the things of the spirit.

So I stop. I pick up a book written by someone who prioritizes soul care. I have a conversation about things of the spirit with a friend. I talk to God. I listen. It doesn't always happen by bed time, but my attitude gets adjusted.

Each day I live with the knowledge that how I treat my children and respond to my God will forever be impressed in their little brains. Oh, how I fail. But maybe there is redemption in the picking up of the pieces, the adjustment of the heart, the upward turn of the eyes. Maybe, despite my failings, my children will glimpse in me real relationship, real love lived out. Maybe I won't screw them up beyond His ability to repair.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

First World Problems

My kids think they have chores.

Ok, so they kind of do. I hate free loaders and I won't be raising any so I do put my kids to work in all sorts of ways. We don't really call them chores, just kind of "hey, you live in this house so you are expected to help keep it up, it takes a team". Except for J, but he is really cute and bald and toothless and that really gets you a long way.

No, the chores my kids truly kevetch about are referred to as their "5 things". Each day, some time after they have consumed the breakfast lovingly prepared for them by one of their parents (who are we kidding, we all know Matt is the breakfast guy around these parts) my children are expected to do the following: get dressed, brush hair, wash face, brush teeth and make bed.

Whoa. Am I a mean mother or what.

Here is the catch; there is no screen time of any sort until they are all done. High stakes, my friends, high stakes.

Each day when I take a shower, I leave Eliana in charge of baby J. She is required to give him her attention in as much that he doesn't eat anything nasty off the floor, choke on a toy or get into general mischief  My shower is taken and I am back on duty in under 15 minutes  Be impressed, I am the mother of 4 who showers, shaves and does her (very short for a reason) hair and puts on make-up (ok, so mascara and chapstick) in about a quarter of an hour.

I think of this as "life skills" training for my girls.

I think of it as "survival skills" for Jamison.

Valuable lessons are learned by all parties. Many times I hear someone hollering, children arguing, a neglected baby grumping or other various noises that would make a less tenured mother sweat. I figure they will all be fine.

Eliana acts so put upon. She has to get dressed AND mind the baby each day after all.

Oh what first world problems my children suffer from. The clothing (of which they have a plethora of choices) and face washing is so time consuming. Clean water to drink and wash with. I love that my children get to call this "work".

I also hate it.

How do I teach world view to a bunch of children who think it is a bad day when they don't get desert because mama didn't bake anything fresh that day? How do I help them understand true hardship when the only thing that causes them discomfort is having to share a large, well heated room with a sister? How do the comprehend hunger and starvation when the only time they have empty bellies is when they turn up their noses at the dinner mama made?

They are young. I know this. I want compassion to come from the core of who they are, not out of pity for what they see. I want them to cry over the children who go hungry from a place of understanding that the are insurmountable blessed. I want them to know the only thing different between you and the child scavenging at the dump is where you were born. I want them to understand that other cultures are not failed attempts at being you.

And then I complain about lack of outlets for all our electronics at our house. I get irritated having to fold all the clothes our family own and washes. I grip about figuring out what in our vast freezer I should prepare for dinner that my children will choose not to eat. I whine about the traffic while sitting in my paid off van.

I suck.

Some days I feel like I have so far to go, surly I shouldn't be raising children.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Home

I am an introvert.

OK. Maybe that is a misrepresentation. I am PART introvert. I live in a weird tension between being someone who loves people but needs space. I have been out of my space, my home, my life rhythm for the last month as I spent time with my family and friends in Colorado.

I loved it.

I loved having coffee with people I usually am forced to only enjoy over the phone. I love hugging my niece and harassing my nephew. I shopped with my sister. I went out with my dad. I spent lazy mornings with my mom.  I hugged on my friends kids, slept in their beds, and spent hours of quality time with people who matter to me.

And now I am grumpy.

I am home, or at least where my possessions happen to reside, and I feel like I need to curl up with a book and lock myself in a room to "recharge". I have lost my balance, I spent too much time OUT and not enough IN. I don't really have good words for it, for the feeling of wanting to hide from the world.

So now we start the drum beat of normal life and it feels good. I miss, oh how I miss, being close enough to hug those I love.

So life is lived in the tension.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sacrifices of Motherhood

Sleep deprivation. Loosing the "pre-baby" body. Less "me" time. No time alone with hubby. These are all the sacrifices people talk about when you have a baby. These are things you are expecting, anticipating, freedoms you know you are giving up.

The there is the other stuff, the "second string" sacrifices you may have only heard when eves dropping on mommy friends. Things like never getting to pee by yourself or getting puked on or children running off with important things like cell phone or key or wallets.

Then there is the dark side. Things mothers don't often talk about because you just can't bring yourself to discuss it over a cocktail or even at a playgroup. Things you can't say out loud least your children repeat them. Things that sacrifice our very pride.

It goes beyond the humility of our children looking like booger crusted hooligans at church on those mornings you just can't seem to get your shizit together. It goes further than the embarrassment of your adorable new baby farting like a frat boy in the grocery store and leaving a green cloud behind you and everyone assuming it was you. The crimson moment when your toddler hands the nice man who just brought you dinner a soaked nursing pad.

I have fished toddlers out of airplane toilets. I have used my shirt to wipe off snot. I have fed my lunch to hungry kids because theirs just wasn't enough. I have eaten things baked in an easy bake oven by my 7 year old and if you don't think that is a sacrifice I invite you over to try her newest baked good.

As mothers, we sacrifice our clothing to blow-out poopy diapers, our hair to sticky fingers of curious babies. My glasses are always smudged from a toddler who trying them on. Half the time I find my bra and underwear somewhere unusual because someone was wearing them as a hat. Mothers sacrifice the ability to enjoy our coffee while it is hot, our cereal before it is soggy and the ability to change clothing without a running commentary about our naked form.

Tomorrow morning I will meet with a group of moms who I have been hanging out with since Jamison was a tiny babe. I love these girls. I am so excited for them, most who are just venturing out into motherhood for the first time.There is a bonding that happens between moms, a mutual understanding of sleep deprivation to the point of delirium, choosing outfits by what is easiest to nurse in, and having to make hard choices for people who don't yet have voices of their own.

Like so many things in my life, that which cost me most is most precious to me. On crappy days when I want to hand in my resignation  I will remember that my children are only little for a while and will dig deep to find that last little bit of patience. I will remind the new mama's how fast the little ones grow, the days are long but the years are short.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Perspective- Part 2

The accident was on my mind all night. In my dreams I was trying to save them or I was crashing my car or....

This morning I woke up feeling anything but rested. I spent a nice morning at a friends house while our kids played. We talked about the accident. I am still trying to find the right "box" in my head to put it in. Death? Things you never hope to see again? Pain? Car safety?

Through the wonders of technology and firmly filed under the heading "small friggin' world" I saw a friends post on Facebook. RIP. My stomach sank. I got that cold feeling. The one you get when watching a horror movie and the stupid blond girl is about to go for a walk. At night. In the graveyard. By herself. Stomach in my feet, I started to put together pieces.

I knew him.

The man who died while we waited for help to come. The man who I talked to, who I told everything was going to be all right. The man who I couldn't help. That man was Ryan. Ryan who graduated the same year I did at the same High School. The girl was Terra, his girlfriend.

Does it change things? I am not sure. In some ways it helps to know their names, it gives words to mourning. In other ways it makes it so much more real. I knew these people had lives before I knew there names. But now I know the names of those mourning their passing, I see pictures of there life, I read the expressions of love they wrote on each others facebook walls. I know Ryan's sister. It is so raw.

It is so tempting to pack this away. To find a box, neatly label it and put it far back in the recesses of my mind. To pour a glass of wine (or 4) and take a nap and wake up and choose to move on with my life like nothing ever happened.

But I won't.

I can't.

In my heart of hearts I know that avoiding and pretending isn't my path. For some reason, God had me there last night. It obviously wasn't because I had anything to give, I couldn't do anything to help them. So it must have been to give me something. Ryan, though he will never know it, gave me the opportunity to have a life defining moment. His last breaths, his gift to me, was a chance to hold up what I say is important and see if I have aligned my life accordingly. Do the choices I make today create who I want to be tomorrow? If tomorrow isn't a chance I am given, do the people in my life know how much I care? Have I spent my time and my money in a way that I am proud of? Can I greet my creator God with a smile and a "Thank you, I did my very best"?

So I won't pack away the hurt, the fear, the sadness and the helplessness of last night. I won't dishonor the gift that Ryan gave me. I will mourn. I will cry and feel angry that I couldn't do more. I will pray peace and hope for those who loved him. I chose to live today with my character shaped by an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone.


I pray peace and love to those who are mourning. I pray comfort on their hearts. I pray because there is nothing else I can do.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Perspective

Ok, so I suck as a blogger. I am long over due for a post. I am sorry, friends, that I have done a crappy job staying on top of this.

It seems wrong to have the first post of a year be a sad one. I feel like I should be talking about all the hope I have for a new year, a clean slate and blah blah blah

That would have been my post, but life doesn't always go the way you think it is going to.

We watched the Broncos game today. I am not a fan of football...or really any sports. I didn't grow up in a household that's pulse beat to whatever sports season it happen to be. And I pretty much suck at sports. The game was a good one though we lost and our season is now over. The devastation of Broncos fans sent ripples through Facebook.

The creeping crud has been making its way around our family, today it was Jamison who was feeling sickly and we were all out of Ibuprofen.  Despite the single digit weather, I was off to Target for drugs. My husband chivalrously offered to go, but I said it was fine as long as I could wear mom's warm pea coat opposed to my thinner jacket.

I drove about 2 blocks before my windshield was so iced over I had to pull over and fix it. After scraping and waiting for the car to warm a bit more I was on my way. I was headed east down Colfax just about to pass under the interstate when a truck in front of me swerved suddenly. They careened across several lanes at full speed. With an ear shattering shriek of metal the truck crashed head on into the stop light post.

It happened so fast. It felt so unreal, like I was watching a movie or a crime scene reenactment. I quickly pulled over behind the smoking truck. I turned on the emergency flashers and jumped out of my car. I ran up to the truck. I asked if anyone could hear me. A man who had also seen the accident was standing there with his phone calling 911.

I walked closer to the car. I could smell the destruction. I couldn't see anything but deployed air bags. I went to the passengers side door. Several other cars had stopped by this point and there were several men standing around, cussing mostly. I walked up to the door and tried to open it to see if there was someone in there. I asked for some one bigger than me to come help, not sure I would be able to move the shattered door, but everyone just stood around with faces looking shocked and appalled. I opened the door and bits of plastic and metal came pouring out. Glass was everywhere.

I saw a pair of boots, work type, but couldn't see what they were attached to, the air bags filled the truck and the front engine compartment was now in the cab. I walked around to the drivers side and pushed the airbag off the drivers face so she could breath. She was breathing but had a huge gash on her forehead. People were gathered around, but only one or two came close enough to see anything. I saw she had the owner of the boots laying in her lap.

I knew enough to not move anyone, not that I could have or that it would have done any good. The girl, maybe in her early 20's, was breathing raggedly. I gently touched her face and let her know she wasn't alone. I asked if she could hear me, if she could tell me her name. I told her help was on the way, I lied and said she would be ok. I told her that her friend was in the car with her and we would make sure to help him to. I told her to just stay real still, they would be there soon. She never responded.

The guys (I was the only woman on the scene) parked a big truck behind us so that no one would hit the wreck. I just stood, talking to the girl. I heard her friend moan. I told him help was on the way. I felt so helpless. I couldn't do anything or help anyone.

The firetruck was there first. The fire man said he would take over. He asked how many were in the car, if she was the only one. I told him there was a man in the car too, he was in her lap and was hard to see. I stepped back as they cut off the door. I talked to the police  trying to take guesses to why she swerved and how fast she might have been going.After much cutting of metal, they laid her on the stretcher. I moved my car. A police officer handed me a clip board and told me to take it to my car and write a statement.

I sat in the car, shaking. I had been in the single digits in a dress for the last 30 minutes but was just realizing how cold I was. I had to warm my hands by the heater so I could feel them enough to hold the pen. I wrote what I knew, which only took up 3 sad little lines. I got out of the car and waited for the officer.

They fire department continued with the cutting but with less urgency. When they pulled the man out of the truck, they gathered around then covered him with a sheet. I knew what that meant.

The officer came over and thanked me for my time, told me to travel safely and that they would be in touch.

I got back into my car, the radio was on and the dj's were ranting about the outcome of the game. It seemed so trivial. Who cares about a stupid football game, I just watched a man die and held a woman who was bleeding to death and struggling for each breath in my arms.

I came home. Matt made me tea, my mom gave me hugs. I told them about the crash. Jamison woke up.

I sat and rocked and nursed my baby and though what a strange thing life was. I could go from watching a life end to holding one that was just beginning in a mater of moments. I thought what might have happened if Matt had gone to get the drugs for the baby. I wondered why God worked it so I was there. Why not someone more helpful, who could have done something other than lie to a woman who laid with her friend dying in her lap?

My heart hurts for the family of the man who didn't get to go home tonight. My heart breaks for the young woman who may not see the sunrise tomorrow and if she does, will live the rest of her days with the blood of  someone else on her hands.

There is so much pain. I am not sure how to process it. How is life so harsh and so beautiful at the same time? Why do some get to walk away?

I know there are no answers this side of heaven. So my prayer is, Lord, let me walk gently through this world. Let my life leave echos of peace and love and truth. Help me spread more joy than pain, more wisdom than grief. Let me live a life of Grace because there is no guarantee for tomorrow.